How Important is a Trademark?

Inventor Lady
Kick R Design

Your trademark can be as valuable to you as a patent and possibly more.  Consumers identify with your trademark, not your patent.  Most consumers don’t care if you have a patent as long as you have a great product.  When was the last time you went into a store and looked for a patent number?  Consumers look for names and/or websites.  Keep this in mind when you decide on a name for your product.  

So how do you pick a name?  This is tricky.  On one side, the USPTO has guidelines and requirements.  They want something “fanciful”.  That’s great if you have a million dollars to spend on marketing a name that has some kind of new spelling or is a new word all together, like Xerox (who had ever heard of this before they spent millions on commercials?).  Most of our clients don’t have that kind of budget.  For example, I doubt that 30 years ago anyone looked under “Apple” in the phonebook to find a computer.  They had the budget.

On the other side, you need to have a name that is reasonably easy for the consumer to find and won’t cost you multiples of millions of dollars in advertising.  Deciding on the right trademark is a delicate dance of words.  Try to find something that makes sense and then combine the words with something fanciful.  Make sure that you can get the domain name as well.  If you are going to market a product, you should make it as easy as possible for someone to find it.  Having a different name for your website than your product makes it very difficult to get the message to the consumer.  Try to make your message as clear and as simple as possible.  If consumers can’t find you, they won’t buy your product.

The name you give your product is part of your intellectual property.  As soon as you determine the name you are going to use, you should start using a ™ beside the name.  This is telling the world that you claim this name.  Most often you wait until you are selling product to go ahead and file your trademark with the USPTO.  Once you are granted the trademark, you will use ® to show that according to the USPTO, you own this trademark.

Bottom Line:  Spend time working on your trademark. It is worth it.  If you are having doubts, have a focus group done.  People will tell you if are on the right track.  Get help; do it right.

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